Introducing Investigative Interns Sahi Padmanabhan and Deborah Wilber

The Better Government Association is proud to announce it has selected two students as its inaugural six-month investigative interns. The program is funded by a generous grant from a pair of award-winning Chicago Tribune investigative reporters.

Sahi Padmanabhan and Deborah Wilber were selected from more than 150 applicants nationwide. Sahi will be focused on long-term investigative projects and Deborah will be working on PolitiFact fact-checks.

The BGA’s new paid internship program is the result of a gift directed by Chicago Tribune investigative reporter David Jackson, who in 2019 established the Gary Marx Journalism Fund. Jackson said the goal of the fund is to inspire a new generation of investigative reporters.

In searching for the right students for the two spots, editors at the BGA reviewed scores of applications and conducted more than a dozen interviews.

Sahi is a senior in DePaul University’s journalism program and works for 14 East, DePaul’s online newsmagazine.

A graduate of Naperville Central High School, Sahi was the 2015 Illinois representative at the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism conference. She also was an intern for the Times of India in its Bengaluru, India bureau.

At DePaul, she’s been an associate editor for 14 East. In addition, she and classmates in the Advance Reporting class worked on two stories for WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” program. The class is taught by television and print journalist Carol Marin and producer Don Moseley.

Sahi’s interests include neighborhood and community-level reporting in the Chicago area and social issues specific to Chicagoans.

Deborah is a student at Weber State in Ogden, Utah and has worked at the student newspaper, The Signpost. She is new to Chicago.

After growing up in the small town of Cloudcraft, New Mexico, she spent eight years in the U.S. Navy. Afterwards, Deborah attended Mountain View Community College in Dallas, Texas, where she discovered a talent for writing and was nominated for student of the year.

After Mountain View, Deborah attended Weber State, where she quickly became enamored with the power of open records requests. At The Signpost, she covered some of the bigger stories on campus, including following a sex offender case for over a year and covering the struggle of international students with health insurance after the university failed them.

These valuable internships are made possible by Jackson’s generous gift. He established the journalism fund to honor investigative reporter Gary Marx, a longtime reporting partner who still works with Jackson at the Tribune. Gary Marx began his career as a war correspondent in Africa, uncovered human rights abuses in Latin America and then returned to Chicago to expose prison murders, local political corruption and sexual violence against public school students.